Thirteen Reasons Why is a theatrical and glamorized portrayal of the tragedy of suicide. The discussions concerning its appropriateness and influence dominate media attention as we enter May, Mental Health Month. Despite the popularity of this series, many people do not understand the magnitude and devastating impact of the current mental health crisis. The CDC reports that death by suicide is the second leading cause of death for people aged 15-35 years, and the third for children aged 10-14.1 Additionally, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, cognitive impairment, eating/ body image disorders, behavioral concerns and ADHD are some of the most common mental health issues seen in our schools. No less than 13-20% of children living in the United States (up to 1 out of 5 children) experience a mental disorder in a given year. 2 Half (50%) of those children will never receive treatment. 3
School Nurses spend 33% of their time addressing student mental health issues. 4 None of us can escape our responsibility to assess and recognize mental health concerns, make appropriate referrals to school and community resources, combat the stigma of mental illness and ensure a safe and comfortable return to school after related absences. We are compelled to advocate for accessible and comprehensive mental health treatment for our students and our communities. This vital role of the School Nurse is outlined in the NASN Position Statement Mental Health of Students (2013).
There is a wealth of information that can enhance our evidence-based practice. Educational materials that can be shared with our families abound. Opportunities to make a profound difference present themselves on a daily basis.
As we celebrate our profession this month, especially on National School Nurse Day, let’s dedicate ourselves to protecting our own mental health, promoting mental health in our school communities and preventing the tragedy of lost or unfulfilled lives. Below are just a few resources that can aid our efforts.
http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may features a valuable toolkit.
https://www.nami.org/Learn-More provides statistics, infographics and fact sheets.